There are many who plant vegetable gardens without a thought to flowers.
Why are flowers necessary for vegetable gardens? Because they bring more bees to your garden in a way that just vegetables won’t. And the more bees you have the more vegetables you’ll have.
As solitary bees collect flower pollen (used as protein for their young) and as they sip on nectar to sustain their energy, they carry the pollen from flower to flower and achieve pollination necessary for production.
It has even been found that self pollinating vegetables produce more fruit when visited by bees.
Almost All are Gentle
I’ve always enjoyed the many kinds of bees in my gardens. I’ve watched them at work and have worked right beside them. I did my job and they did theirs. I’ve never been afraid of them.
I was stung once by a tiny little bee (about 3/8 inch long) when I backed my rear into it while it was on a flower. The kids that were visiting my garden at the time thought it was the funniest thing they’d ever seen.
Bees for the most part are easy to get along with. You don’t bother them — they don’t bother you. You’d have to make an effort to get stung by almost any bee away from its nest.
Out of a possible 4000 species of native bees the hornet and yellow jacket are the only exceptions I can think of.
Serious Decline of This Important Member of the Ecosystem
The thousands of species of bees worldwide are in serious decline from habitat loss and pesticides.
When you think of how quickly the bees are disappearing and how much we depend on them for our food, it would seem to me a natural thing to want to make your property as appealing to bees as possible.
And think of this — unlike honey bees, most of our native bees die off during the winter and ONLY the queen is left to start anew in the Spring.
Why Your Garden and Your Choices Can Make a BIG Difference
Since bees range only within a mile or two of their nests, your choice of plantings can make a big difference in the number of bees as well as the number of other beneficial insects that help keep your garden healthy.
And if you have a nice wooded area — even a small one — they’ll have even more nesting sites to choose from.
Double petals or single? Hybrid or not?
I, like most gardeners, have enjoyed ordering the “latest” unusual double blossomed beauty. But I’ve recently learned that blossoms with double petals are not as attractive to the bees as are the single petal blossoms. The double blossoms offer less pollen and nectar than singles. Often, in hybridizing, the extra petals take the place of what was the pollen-laden part of the stamen.
It’s more difficult for bees to reach into the inner flower parts of double blossom. It’s easier for them to feed on the single petal blossoms.
In my gardens I’ve also found these hybridized beauties don’t perform as well as the parent plant. That disappointment was enough to make me think twice before ordering more even prior to learning about the plight of the bees.
The largest variety of bees will be attracted by flat or shallow blossoms like daisies, asters, yarrow, ecinacia, and zinnias.
Bees Have Differences Too
Like all creatures, bees have differences. Some are long-tonged and will be attracted to different shaped blossoms like those of nepeta, oregano, lavender, and salvia, thyme, and rosemary.
Some bees are attracted more to perennials. Others like annuals.
So think diversity in plants and bloom times. (Bees will need pollen and nectar from early spring through fall.)
White Clover and Dandelions
Our native bees were feasting on white clover and dandelions and other native flowers long before gardeners came along. My point is —–having these plants in your lawn, can make it a foraging area for the bees.
Lean towards natives or plants derived from natives rather than those bred for showy blooms. I promise you, based on what has happened in my garden, the beauty of your garden will not suffer.
When your choices favor the bees, you can only make your garden better.
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